It's time for today’s etymology lesson. The root word of vacation is vacate, which means to leave or go away. Employers offer vacation days and paid time off to urge employees to get out of the office so that they can relax and rejuvenate. Despite the intent, it seems that the majority of employees are instead choosing to stay.
According to Glassdoor’s first-quarter employment confidence survey of more than 2,000 adults, on average, U.S. employees used only half of their eligible time off in the past year. Some 15 percent of the participants surveyed said that they hadn’t taken any vacation days in the past 12 months.
Rusty Rueff, a career and workplace expert at Glassdoor, attributes the findings in part to employees’ fear of losing their jobs and having to face an uncertain job market, which lingers from the Great Recession.
“There’s a lot of hangover in the psyche of American workers from what they’ve seen happen to their parents and grandparents,” Rueff said. “All of that comes together and makes you feel less comfortable about doing things that are really for you. It’s a lot of fear and trepidation.”
Even if employees leave the office, they tend to take work with them. The survey found that 61 percent of employees who have taken vacation or paid time off report doing some work while away. Almost 25 percent said they were contacted by co-workers concerning a work-related matter, while 30 percent were contacted directly by their boss. Rueff said that those types of intrusions make employees feel that they aren’t allowed to disengage.
“That’s not anybody’s fault but management’s,” he said.
To remedy the situation, employers should lead by example, Rueff said. Take vacations and let employees know that you won’t be checking in, which sets a standard for the office.